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Tropical Furniture & Decor

The casual elegance of the islands, the bright azure and turquoise blues of warm Gulf waters, the clean neutral tones of beach dunes, sun, and surf -this is tropical design and home decor. Perfect for southern homes as well as to bring some winter warmth to northern decorating plans, tropical design has its roots in the quiet, relaxed lifestyle of the Caribbean Islands and the Florida Keys. Tropical style is recognizable by its combination of natural materials, such as bamboo, sisal, and cane with sturdy, hardwood furniture, inspired by colonial times, its bright cheerful colors, and its touch of the unexpected.

Tropical Furniture

The term "tropical furniture" is a bit of a dichotomy. It refers to both light and casual items, such as a bamboo patio chair, as well as to dark and sturdy pieces, such as a teak bedroom set. Rattan furniture, often painted white or a light pastel color, gives an outdoor, porch-like feel, even when used indoors. Such pieces seem to reflect the light of the Caribbean sun and bring it inside. They are further brightened by the colorful cushions, often in a flower or fish motif that accompany them. Conversely, island décor also incorporates the dark, hardwood furniture made popular in the islands during the plantation and colonial times. Usually constructed of durable woods, such as teak, ebony, and mahogany, a colonial piece, such as a massive four-poster bed, dining room table, or a chest can be a good focal point for a tropical room. These pieces often include design elements mirroring the landscape, such as carved pineapples and banana leaves, which give tropical furniture a unique, island feel.

Glass, too, is often used in tropical design. Large glass-top dining tables or coffee tables contribute to the open, airy feel. Large framed mirrors open up a room and simple area rugs, often in natural materials, cover ceramic tile floors, and shutters, used both indoors and out give a tropical room a casual insouciance.

Tropical Design & Decor

Tropical design is cheerful, bright, and reflects the colors found in nature throughout the Caribbean and South Florida. Blues, deep azure and clear turquoise, mirror the clean Caribbean waters. Greens reflect the lush vegetation of the islands and bright pinks, yellows, and reds reflect the abundant hibiscus, bougainvilleas, and orchid flowers. Pastels -pinks, light blues, lemon yellows, and seafoam greens - give a touch of whimsy and playfulness and contrast nicely with dark, plantation-style furniture. Liberal use of white, reminiscent of the luminous Caribbean sun, insures that a tropical room is light and airy.

Bold floral and marine patterns predominate in tropical design, with fish, flower, and shell patterns most frequently used. Cool, crisp cottons and un-dyed linens are favorite fabrics of this design style with Thai silks incorporated occasionally for a fancier, more formal look.

Tropical design lends itself nicely to outdoor living. Screened and wrap-around porches, patios, and terra cotta tile lanais are enhanced by rattan chairs, tables, and settees with cushions in bold floral and marine motifs. The blurring of the line between indoors and outdoors is a hallmark of tropical design. Lush garden plants in bright ceramic and wicker pots make festive accompaniments to a tropical porch.

Tropical Decor Accessories

It's not all about flamingos. Tropical interior accessories, look to the beach for their inspiration. Shells displayed in shadow boxes and jars reflect this interest. Baskets, mats, and rugs, made from natural materials such as rattan, seagrass, and sisal give a room a warm-weather feel, no matter the temperature. Large potted palms, ferns, and orchids, frequently set in wicker baskets, help bring the lushness of the tropics indoors. Large ceiling fans, both decorative and functional bring in the cool, evening air. Artwork, such as botanical prints and bright and colorful island landscapes, add a splash of color to the walls.

Tropical design is fun, playful, and cheerful and suitable for any home. It's perfect for a southern porch or a northern garden room. Bring a little bit of the tropics home with you by adding a light airy rattan piece of furniture, perhaps with a bold hibiscus print. A little bit of tropical design is sure to liven up any home.

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